The night air has cooled. I can almost imagine a changing of the seasons, especially since the sun is setting earlier and earlier. Soon, it’ll be dark at 5 PM and Christmas will come and go and we still will have no reason at all to wear a coat around here.
It’s been almost three years since my husband accepted a job here and moved, leaving me behind with the kids and pets and the task of packing up our house while preparing to sell it. The whole family has been here for just over two years, long enough that the walls could use some paint and the dishwasher died and stuff seems to be piling up.
I never, ever think “I hope it doesn’t rain” because it just doesn’t usually rain. I know my way around, though from time to time I do get my house numbers here confused with my house numbers there. Which is weird.
My friend, Diane, once told me it takes a good five years to really feel at home somewhere and I suppose that’s true. It certainly has never taken me less time. So I try not to notice that some days go by and I haven’t talked to an adult other than my husband. I assume that everyone here knows everyone else and that when the music stops, there will be no vacant seats.
Musical chairs. Remember that game? When the music stops, you have to scramble for a chair or you’re out of the game.
I guess I feel . . . out of the game. Sidelined. Sitting on the couch, wondering if someone will talk to me. Yet knowing that the responsibility is mine. And I’m too afraid, too tired, too busy to strike up a conversation.
And when I do have a conversation, it just sputters and dies. You know? Like, you have a nice visit with someone but you walk away thinking, “I am an idiot. Why don’t I just shut up?” or you walk away thinking happier thoughts but when the conversation ends, that’s it. You get in your car alone and drive home.
So, I’m feeling lonely. And I’m feeling abandoned by the people who seemed to be friends. And I’m feeling guilty for the friendships I didn’t tend to long enough, those friendships that withered due to my neglect.
I’m unbelievably busy and tired and exhausted from worrying about all manner of things that I have absolutely no way to control. Every weekend is about soccer. My calendar has appointments marked in it that fill me with unreasonable amounts of dread. My desk is piled with folded laundry and a suspicious stack of papers. I have both a toothpick and tweezers in plain view of my keyboard. My computer monitor is lined with a rainbow of sticky notes with scrawled messages and reminders. Last night, I completely forgot to pick up my son after work.
This is what my life has become.
I have a lot of unanswered questions.
Tonight, I had to take my daughter and one son into town. They had to be somewhere at 6:15 PM. I invited Lola the Dog along and she went absolutely nuts while I put on her collar and leash. We drove to town and dropped off the kids.
I had really wanted to just drop them off and go back home and lie in bed and play Candy Crush or read or watch television or nap. But I bossed myself around and I lied to myself to get myself to put on walking shoes and getting the dog into the car. I promised myself that I could just drop them off and go home. But just in case, I was prepared for a walk with the dog.
And sure enough, that trickery worked. I dropped off the kids and drove to the beach where I easily found a place to parallel park. Lola the Dog was on good behavior and the sun glowed orange-yellow as it slid toward the horizon. And we walked and heard waves crash and saw the sun set and saw the moon rise.
At one point, I had a moment of clarity, a feeling that my life is good, a realization that I am too quick to entertain all these ridiculous feelings, too willing to listen to the lying liar in my head who warns me of impending doom and terror and failure.
These are the good old days.